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Biographical entry Modlin, Monte (1917 - 1980)

MRCS and FRCS 1954; MB ChB MD Cape Town.

Bloemfontein, South Africa
23 June 1980
General practitioner and Urologist


Monte Modlin was born in Bloemfontein in 1917. He attended the South African College School in Cape Town and then entered the University of Cape Town Medical School. During the second world war he served for three years in the SAMC in Egypt. In 1943 he returned to South Africa and joined the air school in Oudtshoorn. After general practice in Oudtshoorn for six years he decided to specialise and spent the next four years working at Trinity College, Dublin, the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, and Leeds General Infirmary, studying surgery and calcium metabolism. During this time he made many friends and developed what was to become a lifelong interest in the problem of renal stone formation, an interest which was stimulated by his work with Professor Pyrah at Leeds University. In 1954 he obtained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Returning to South Africa in 1956, he commenced private practice in Cape Town and was appointed part-time consultant urologist at Groote Schuur Hospital where he started the renal stone clinic in 1962. Over the next twenty years he accumulated a mass of data on renal stones and did some excellent research work on their rarity in black people. He was acknowledged to be a world authority in this field and was regularly invited to international symposia. In June 1965 his research resulted in an MD thesis entitled Some chemical and physical properties of urine with relation to renal stone formation - an inter-racial study. He delivered a Hunterian Lecture in 1966 on the aetiology of kidney stones and, in spite of a series of illnesses and operations he started an ambitious study of the structure of stones using sophisticated apparatus - work which was halted by his death.

His home in Sea Point reflected the diversity of his interests. He spent what leisure time he had pottering in his garden with his dogs and relaxing in his study while pursuing his interest in history with an emphasis on Jewish, Greek, Roman and Ancient Egyptian. He had a respectable knowledge of Egyptian and Greek archaeology and, in later years, studied Greek in order to understand the subtleties of ancient history better. He married Julia Judith Green, a fellow student from the University of Cape Town, in 1943 and they had a son, Irwin, who also studied medicine. It was while visiting his son, who was in the department of surgery at the State University of New York, that Modlin died suddenly. He was attending a symposium at Williamsburg, Virginia when he collapsed. He died on 23 June 1980 survived by his wife, Julia, his son and a granddaughter, Carmen.

Sources used to compile this entry: [S Afr med J 1980, 58, 703].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England